The American Presidency for Beginners (For Beginners), by Justin Slaughter Doty
Mar. 21, 2017
George Washington was a hard act to follow but at least until recently, most of his successors made an effort to emulate the dignity he brought to his office. In The American Presidency for Beginners, Justin Slaughter Doty boils down the first 44 presidents and more than 200 years of history in 290 pages. Highly opinionated yet generally fair-minded, Doty isn’t afraid to call out presidents captive to sycophants (Warren Harding) or their own emotional flaws (Richard Nixon) or that left behind mixed legacies (Bill Clinton). As for Washington, he “reinforced the security and stability of the United States through diplomacy and averting war,” Doty writes. Neither an ideologue nor a blowhard, our first president walked softly, spoke confidently and brandished whatever stick was appropriate to the occasion. That the U.S. didn’t fall into dictatorship, the fate of many regimes born in revolution, testifies to his character.